Disclaimer: If you are reading this article as someone from the MS Gulf Coast, please keep in mind that this is written from the perspective of a 35 year old man who was a teenager when all of this happened. Some of my facts may be incorrect due to the nature of my perspective as a kid but it’s a time I hold fondly in my heart. Forgive any mistakes I may have made or major players in the scene I might have left out. My knowledge is only as good as the limited experiences I had and stories I was told.

This post is also dedicated to the lives of Nathan Slade and Joey Culver. We miss you ever day.

In 1999, I was 11 years old growing up in Jackson, MS listening to a lot of pop and rap/hip-hop music. While, at that time in my life, I really enjoyed this style of music there was a second layer to why. Mostly, it was because it was not really cool to listen to any style of rock music. It kind of painted a target on your back to be made fun of, which certainly something I was trying to avoid.

As bands like Creed were gaining more mainstream popularity, it started becoming a bit easier to embrace that style of music more in my life. Seeing them live on their Human Clay tour in 2000 was most certainly a game changer for my life and how I embraced music. 24 years later and I still remember this show vividly.

One of the additional elements of the show that really blew my mind was the opening act, Finger Eleven’s stage presence. At that point, they had just released their sophomore album, The Greyest of Blue Skies, and were embracing this really heavy style that was almost metal but still very accessible. They dressed like the nu-metal bands of the time, jumped around like those bands, but maintained a sound that was unique and a bit more digestible.

This was kind of the floodgate moment for me to really start seeking out new bands like this to listen to. That’s when bands like Linkin Park and Nickelback started coming into my life, which was great.

At the same time, as I was getting into these bands, 3 Doors Down came out with their first single, Kryptonite. Like a lot of the world, I was absolutely blown away. But, one of the coolest parts of the band, to me, was the fact that they were located just a couple of hours away from where I lived.

The Better Life stayed in heavy rotation for myself and in the car with my dad. Seeing folks from your neck of the woods putting out such great music that was being so widely accepted and celebrated by the mainstream was really exciting. Kind of the same feeling you get when a sports team you love hits a major milestone.

Early in 2001, my family began the relocation process for my mom’s job to Ocean Springs, MS. This just happened to be a town or two over from where 3 Doors Down were from (Escatawpa, MS for anyone who was curious).

Seattle 2.0: The Post-Grunge Wonderland

While I was too young to really participate in the scene of that time, my dad was very actively involved. He was playing in bands and going to shows frequently so he got a glimpse of what was going on.

This style of music was running wild on the MS Gulf Coast. A style that was an evolution of the grunge sound that came out of Seattle in the early 90s. Later, the style would be classified as “post-grunge.”

There were tons of venues on the coast for bands to play and a lot of it was commonly in this style during this time period. Something about the area made it a natural fit for this new style of hard rock music. Because of the fame 3 Doors Down was quickly achieving and the availability of bands playing a similar style of music, talent scouts and A&R folks from record labels were everywhere trying to get in on the action.

Bands like 12 Stones, Atomship, and Fall as Well (previously known as Droppin’ Trou) were also getting signed to established record labels and getting their music out to a wider audience. It was absolutely incredible to see as a teenager who was eating up this music.

But, nothing lasts forever and the scene would take a huge blow.

Celebrating the Bands That Paved the Way for Today’s Scene

This article is being written at a time in my life when I’m feeling incredibly nostalgic for the music I grew up with. Between life becoming full, age expanding my taste in music, and some tragedies, I found myself subconsciously distancing myself from this style of music. But, as I’ve been getting out to shows with my dad and reconnecting with some of the scene, I’m finding it really comforting at this point in my life.

As a teenager, a lot of it helped to calm my angst and depression. The aggression of the music and lyrical content often spoke to my feelings, at least my interpretation at the time. As those feelings have changed and grown over time, I find a different level of comfort in the music.

For that reason, I’d like to share some of that music and memories with you. Maybe you’ll discover something new that you weren’t aware of or simply one kid’s perspective on a scene.

12 Stones

Not long after I moved to the Coast, 12 Stones released their debut album on Wind-Up Records, a label that was scooping up bands from the area. This album came out less than a year after my family moved to the area and because they were from close by in Louisiana (and AJ, their drummer, was a DJ at 97.9 WCPR, the local hard rock radio station), they often played around town.

I was 13 at the time and my parents scooped me up after school and took me on a trip across the bridge to Biloxi. 12 Stones was playing an acoustic set at Bebop Records in Biloxi for an album release party. Getting to see them in this environment for the first time was absolutely incredible. The single for their labelmates, Evanescence called Bring Me to Life, which featured lead singer Paul McCoy, had dropped and was dominating the charts. At that moment, even as a 13 year old, I knew this was a special moment that I needed to take in and enjoy to the fullest. After the band’s amazing set, they stayed around and signed copies of their album. Mine still sits proudly on my CD shelf 21 years later.


If you know me, you probably know that Atomship is one of my absolute favorite bands of all time. Knowing these guys and getting to see them play has been one of the many highlights of my life. Their career was criminally short but in that time they made some incredible music that deserved a much larger audience than it had.

One of my favorite memories of the band came one evening after dropping my then girlfriend off at her house with my dad. As we were driving home enjoying a cool spring evening with the windows rolled down, we heard some familiar music coming from a building where a local teen club had just been stood up. But the club was closed so we didn’t think it was coming from there. As we pulled into the parking lot, we heard a familiar sound. We decided to go check it out.

As we climbed the stairs we heard the familiar tune die down so we knocked on the door. Within seconds we were greeted with a friendly face, our friend Nate, the guitar player for Atomship. He immediately invited us inside. There, we saw Joey and Chad (Roy wasn’t there yet so I assume this was when they were in between bass players). We had stumbled upon Atomship’s practice as they were getting ready to go out on tour to support their newly released album, The Crash of ‘47.

The guys had just wrapped up their practice but asked if we wanted to hear one song. Instantly Dad and I both chimed in, “Mothra!” Posted up behind the drums, I got to witness one of my favorite songs being played by the guys I was lucky enough to call my friends. If you don’t know the song, go check it out below. It’s a masterpiece! The drums alone are incredible so getting to sit behind the man himself was a huge honor and a memory I don’t take for granted.

After they finished up, Nate brought me over to a pile of merch they had and handed me a shirt with their bunny logo on it. In fact, I am wearing that shirt as I’m typing this. It surprisingly lasted 20 years. He also gave me a second shirt which I gave to my girlfriend. Luckily, she didn’t wear it as much as I wore mine so as we got older I put hers to the side so it hasn’t faded at all.

After a few fist bumps, Dad and I were on our way, grinning from ear to ear. We would get the chance to see the guys play a handful of times after this before the band split up. A few years later, Nate would unfortunately pass away which made listening to the music incredibly difficult. As the years passed, I would start to find it easier to listen to but then we unfortunately lost Joey which brought the difficulty right back. Now that a few years have passed, I’m finding myself actively celebrating their music. It still hurts because I miss my friends but I feel like I am honoring their lives and continuing to celebrate Chad, Roy, and Derek every time I give the album a spin.

Fall As Well

Not long after moving to the Coast, my family and I were out at one of our first Mardi Gras parades. While we were wandering around, we heard some music coming from behind a building that definitely wasn’t the typical float tunes.

As we explored a bit, we found a small stage sponsored by the local radio station, 97.9 WCPR. A local band took the stage and was introduced as Droppin’ Trou. From the first note, my dad and I were absolutely blown away! This band kicked ass. Plus, the bass player, Mikey, was incredible, which was an absolute plus for the two of us. Then, Jarrod, the lead singer, breaks out a recorder at the beginning of a song and I was sold. This band was it!

We then acquired their demo album (now up on streaming as The Biloxi Sessions) from a friend and played it on repeat. The song writing and musicianship were top notch.

A couple of years later, the band was picked up by 3 Doors Down’s bass player, Todd Harrell, for his newly established Imprint Records and changed their name to Fall As Well. Not long after, they released their self-titled debut album. The lead single, Lazy Eye, gained a bunch of attention across the country. Not long after the release, the band played the big stage at CPR’s annual festival, CPRfest. I got to see the boys go from a small side stage to the big time, which was super cool.

Unfortunately the band was one of the casualties of Katrina due to displacement. There were a few other factors involved but that’s not my story to tell.

To this day, I actively listen to this band and am so thankful their music finally made it up on streaming platforms. I have their CD but it’s signed in a strange spot so I kind of run the risk of the signature rubbing away more than it already has, so streaming on the go is a big plus.

Kiss the Cop

If you want a band that sat outside of the box but still fit in easily with the scene, then Kiss the Cop is where it’s at. There’s not much to say about these guys other than how incredible they were while they were together. The music has been some of my favorites since I was in my late teens.

I was lucky enough to play a few shows with these guys with my band BravoWhatever and ran sound for them a few times at the legendary Thunder’s Tavern in Pascagoula, MS with my dad. I don’t know the details of why these guys aren’t around anymore but I do know that it’s a shame because the music was incredible. Definitely check out their album A Tasteful Disgrace.


I don’t remember these guys being around for long but I do remember being at the “battle of the bands” show they were at where they won a spot on Todd Harrell’s Imprint Records label. Then, after they went off to record their debut record I don’t remember hearing much about them.

A few years later, I was gifted a copy of their album and was blown away. No idea what happened to these guys but the album was killer.


I’m totally cheating here but you should definitely check out the band I was in my senior year of high school. We were awesome!

Long Live the MS Coast Music Scene

In 2009, I moved away to go to college so I lost a bit of touch with the MS Coast music scene but I did watch my friend’s bands continue to grow. Then, several years later, new bands with a much more evolved sound from this area started to gain popularity as they put out new music during the pandemic. I think the nature of that time period gave more folks incentive to explore new bands from across the world and finally gave others an opportunity to see what bands along the Gulf Coast have to offer.

When moving to Austin, everyone said that it was the music capital of the world. And while I agree, there is a killer music scene here, it has nothing on the MS Gulf Coast scene. Even to this day.

My dad and I were recently at a show for our Coast friends NVSN and Awaken the Giant and spent some time with our good buddy Dom from Crescent City Gumbo. He agreed with us that it felt like the scene was finally starting to recover, almost 20 years later. The sails were repaired and started to pick up wind again. While I don’t get to participate as actively like I did as a teenager, it’s nice to see MS Coast music blossoming and getting the attention it deserves again.

Take a moment to go pick a show in the next few weeks to see and support your local scene, no matter where you are. You never know what memories you might make that live with you the rest of your life.